Science news and reports: Drought conditions, Yolo Bypass Fishery Enhancement meeting materials, the new California Water Atlas, wild salmon conundrum and more!

BDCP+Soil+Boring+Log-1

BDCP Soil Boring Log

It’s a mishmash of different things in today’s Science News, including some real boring stuff …

Who is suffering and who is not as dry conditions wear on: It’s raining – at last, but we all know it’s going to take more than this to break any drought conditions:   ” …   maybe you have noticed something weird this year: It’s not raining. It has not rained much, it is not raining yet, and after this little impression this week the weather forecast calls once again for that wall of high pressure to build up and leave us eating Thanksgiving lunch under abundant sunshine.  While us people have fretted over those infernal blue skies and crazy November fog (like it’s July or something!), it’s probable that our local plants and animals have noticed much more acutely. … ”  Bay Nature takes a look at how the region’s plants and animals are faring in the dry conditions here:  Who’s Suffering, Who’s Not as Drought Stretches On

Weekly Science News

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Driest year on record?  Maybe, maybe not, depending on how you look at it, says Peter Gleick:  ” … The 2013 California water year was extremely dry, but it is not the driest on record. As Figure 1 shows, several water years since 1896 have been drier than 2013, with the driest year on record being 1924, when the entire state suffered severe drought. In fact, the 2012 water year was even slightly drier than 2013.  But this is a quibble: the state is certainly in a severe drought, with two years in a row of very low precipitation. … ”  There is an even more worrisome trend, he writes.  Read it all here at the Huffington Post:  Extreme Weather: Is This California’s Driest Year on Record?

Meeting materials from the BDCP’s Yolo Bypass Fishery Enhancement Team meeting:  Now available at the Bay Delta Conservation Plan website

Boring stuff, too!  Literally.  Here’s a BDCP boring log and a map of boring locations.

The new California Water Atlas: Creating the ‘Owners Manual’ for the state’s water system:  Developer Chacha Sikes says the millennial generation is rather ignorant about the water system they are about to inherit, but she has a plan: ” … We have a project underway to help our generation make sense of the mess we are about to inherit. We are creating a new “Owner’s Manual” for water in the State of California. This will be a citizen-focused, interactive California Water Atlas that will help us understand where, exactly, our water comes from, where it goes, who uses it, how it interacts with landscapes, both natural and built, and how healthy that water is. We will teach ourselves how to care for our water systems and get ourselves connected back into our democratic public resource management system, but upgraded for modern times.  We believe that the days of Chinatown are over for California. Secrecy is dying out in favor of openness, transparency, science, and full accountability. We want to get as much unpredictability out of the way—and understand the unpredictability we can’t eliminate. We believe by sharing information about our natural resources more openly and understandably, we can make smarter choices with water and heal the devastation caused by previous generations. … ”  Read the article from BOOM Magazine here:  A New Water Atlas

Saving wild salmon: A 165 year policy conundrum:  The Water Wired blog has a post from Dr. Bob Lackey that was presented at the Dubach Workshop:  “Science and Scientists in the Contemporary Policy Process,” Oregon State University, October 3-4, Portland, Oregon:  “The  striking  decline  of  salmon  runs  in  California,  Oregon,  Washington,  and  Idaho  has   been  typical  of  those  that  have  occurred  elsewhere.    In  other  regions  of  the  world  where   salmon  were  once  plentiful,  increasing  human  numbers,  their  activities,  and  consequent   alteration  of  the  landscape  coincided  with  decreasing  salmon  abundance.    Thus,  what  is   happening  to  wild  salmon  in  California,  Oregon,  Washington,  and  Idaho  is  the  latest  example  of   a  pattern  that  has  played  out  numerous  times  in  other  regions  of  the  world  (Montgomery   2003). … ”  Dr. Lackey’s paper characterizes  wild  salmon  recovery  in  California,  Oregon,   Washington,  and  Idaho  by  several  apparent  conundrums, as well as policy issues that need to be considered.  ” … Scientists  tend  to  depict  the  policy  debate  as  a  scientific  or  ecological  challenge  and  the  solutions they  offer  are  usually  focused  on  aspects  of  salmon  ecology  (Lackey  et  al  2006b,   Naiman  et  al  2012).    There  is  an  extensive  scientific  literature  about  salmon  (Quinn  2005),  but   the  reality  is  that  the  future  of  wild  salmon  largely  will  be  determined  by  factors  outside  the   scope  of  science. … ” Read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Bob Lackey Paper: ‘Saving Wild Salmon – A 165 Year Policy Conundrum’

FishBio blog assessing brown trout and rainbow trout in the Sierras:  “Recently, FISHBIO technicians preformed stream assessments in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range near Shaver Lake. A component of these stream assessments included electrofishing in the South Fork San Joaquin River. This sampling method allowed us
to safely handle brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). We don’t normally have many opportunities to interact with brown trout in our local waterways, so we were intrigued by this rather uncommon encounter. ... ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Over the Rainbow

Researchers estimate amount of CO2 emitted by rivers and streams:  ” … In order to understand the impact that we humans are having on the atmosphere, it’s necessary to separate what occurs naturally from what we cause to happen. As part of that effort, scientists around the world have been attempting to measure the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere from all known natural sources. One, of those sources, is water. The ocean emits CO2, of course, as do lakes and reservoirs—estimates for those have already been made. Less well understood is how much CO2 is transferred by water moving in rivers and streams. To find out, the researchers undertook an exhaustive study of data that has already been captured by other efforts. Sources included imagery from space shuttle missions, river and stream monitoring sites and data collected by climate monitoring efforts and stored in databases. … ”  Read more at PhysOrg here:  Researchers estimate amount of CO2 released into atmosphere by rivers and streams

Utilizing web-based and mobile-based technologies for water and resource issues:  The Pacific Institute’s Insights blog discusses how 21st century technology is being applied to water issues:  ” … A few weeks ago, I attended Net Impact’s annual conference as a judge for AT&T and EDF’s Ideathon, “How Would You Address the Water Crisis,” focused on utilizing mobile technology to help address the issue of water scarcity. The participants were thoughtful young professionals and students interested in understanding more about the water crisis and working with others to develop real solutions to address it. Interestingly, three of the solutions focused on leveraging consumer behavior in the marketplace to encourage more efficient water usage in agricultural supply chains. The proposed solutions focused on utilizing mobile technology (through an application) that would allow consumers to understand the water footprint of products – the idea being that, given the knowledge, consumers would choose to buy products with a lower water footprint and be rewarded for it through a company’s reward program. There was significant recognition that tackling the water crisis will hinge upon addressing the issue of water and agriculture.  Here at the Pacific Institute, we have been engaged in utilizing web-based and mobile-based technologies to provide tools for different audiences. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute’s Insights blog here:  Up-scaling Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives on the Water Action Hub

How to interpret satellite images:  NASA’s Earth Observatory gives some pointers:  “Satellite images are like maps: they are full of useful and interesting information, provided you have a key. They can show us how much a city has changed, how well our crops are growing, where a fire is burning, or when a storm is coming. To unlock the rich information in a satellite image, you need to:  Look for a scale; look for patterns, shapes, and textures; eefine the colors (including shadows); find north; and consider your prior knowledge.  These tips come from the Earth Observatory’s writers and visualizers, who use them to interpret images daily. They will help you get oriented enough to pull valuable information out of satellite images.  … ”  Read the primer here:  How to Interpret a Satellite Image:
Five Tips and Strategies

New study uses satellite data to show changes in the world’s forests:  “A new study based on Earth-observing satellite data comprehensively describes changes in the world’s forests from the beginning of this century. Published in Science today, this unparalleled survey of global forests tracked forest loss and gain at the spatial granularity of an area covered by a baseball diamond (30-meter resolution).  Led by Matthew C. Hansen of the University of Maryland and assisted by USGS co-author Thomas R. Loveland, a team of scientists analyzed data from the Landsat 7 satellite to map changes in forests from 2000 to 2012 around the world at local to global scales. The uniform data from more than 650,000 scenes taken by Landsat 7 ensured a consistent global perspective across time, national boundaries, and regional ecosystems.  “Tracking changes in the world’s forests is critical because forests have direct impacts on local and national economies, on climate and local weather, and on wildlife and clean water,” said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “This fresh view of recent changes in the world’s forests is thorough, objective, visually compelling, and vitally important.” ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Changes in World’s Forests Portrayed in High Definition

Maven’s XKCD comic pic of the week:

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